Arthouse

THE KILLING OF A SACRED DEER

Director
Yorgos Lanthimos
(THE LOBSTER, DOGTOOTH)

Stars
Colin Farrell, Nicole Kidman, Barry Keoghan, Raffey Cassidy and Sunny Suljic

Fresh from their impeccable appearances in Sofia Coppola’s excellent erotic drama THE BEGUILED, Colin Farrell and Nicole Kidman star in this new psychological thriller/horror from the director of the 2015 arthouse hit THE LOBSTER, Yorgos Lanthimos. Coincidentally, both this film and THE BEGUILED were nominated for the prestigious Palme d’Or award at the 2017 Cannes Film Festival and each took away separate award wins, with THE KILLING OF A SACRED DEER earning the Best Screenplay (a tie with YOU WERE NEVER REALLY HERE) prize.

Successful and renowned cardiovascular surgeon Dr Steven Murphy (Colin Farrell) lives in a beautiful home with his ophthamologist wife Anna (Nicole Kidman) and their two children, teenage daughter Kim (Raffey Cassidy) and twelve year-old son Bob (Sunny Suljic). At work, Steven is occasionally visited by a fatherless teenage boy, named Martin (Barry Keoghan from DUNKIRK), who he acts as a mentor for. As Martin’s visits become more frequent and his behaviour turns rather menacing, Steven’s personal life simultaneously begins to fall apart.


The sublime execution from Lanthimos at creating a bizarre world that is built within the commonalities of everyday society brilliantly procures every ounce of darkly odd humour it can derive and is an easing brewing of masterful psychological intrigue. What makes this fascinating world so curiously bizarre are the vocal mannerisms and the often random, off-centre & unorthodox dialogue that is exchanged by every character that inhabits the film. Being in the presence of such unworldly people in a familiar world sure as heck succeeds at gaining 100% of your attention!

Once the background concerning these characters’ pasts is formed and their future trajectories become increasingly bleak, which unfold together, THE KILLING OF A SACRED DEER becomes an evermore transfixing experience. Now, that aforementioned psychological intrigue has assumed a much more ominous tone as the film evolves into the genre of true psychological horror. To this extent, THE KILLING OF A SACRED DEER is a near masterpiece. Though there is no decline to its boundless psychological and atmospheric properties, all that hinders this film from earning all-round genuine excellence are some major flaws (particularly during its finale) in consistency that are needed for the validation of what is ultimately being sold.

3 ½ stars


Viewer Discretion
MA15+ (Strong themes)

Trailer
THE KILLING OF A SACRED DEER

Moviedoc thanks Madman Entertainment for the in-season pass provided to watch and review this film.

Review by Moviedoc / “LIKE” on Facebook – Moviedoc

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THE DESERT BRIDE (LA NOVIA DEL DESIERTO)

Directors
Cecilia Atán and Valeria Pivato
(Feature film debut)

Stars
Paulina García and Claudio Rissi

This Argentine-Chilean production set in Buenos Aires stars Chilean actress and theatre director Pauline Garcia (better known as Pali García) as Teresa, a house maid who has worked for the same family for several years.  When that family announces their plans to sell their home and move away from the Argentinian capital, Teresa’s life is faced with an uncertain future.


An Un Certain Regard Award and Golden Camera Nominee at the 2017 Cannes Film Festival, THE DESERT BRIDE is a reasonably absorbing film by way of its seamless integration of subtle and heartfelt characterisation and a beautifully nuanced performance from Pali García. The screenplay earns appreciation from observing the simple interactions of Teresa that lets viewers see the kind, lonely and reticent woman that she is. Once this understanding has been garnered, the direction that Teresa’s life takes throughout THE DESERT BRIDE has its moments of genuine concern, joy and light poignancy that continue to engage. 

At just 78 minutes, THE DESERT BRIDE is a gradual paced minor film that isn’t without meaning and is worth seeing.

3 ½ stars

Viewer Discretion
TBC

Trailer
THE DESERT BRIDE (LA NOVIA DEL DESIERTO)

Moviedoc thanks Asha Holmes Publicity for the invite to the screening of this film.

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LOVING VINCENT

Directors / Dorota Kobiela and Hugh Welchman (THE FLYING MACHINE and feature film debut, respectively)
Stars/ Douglas Booth, Jerome Flynn, Saoirse Ronan, Helen McCrory, Eleanor Tomlinson and Chris O’Dowd

Almost every review of LOVING VINCENT you’ll read will begin by informing you that this is the first-ever oil painted feature film to be produced. This beautiful and befitting testament to the troubled yet supremely talented artist, Vincent van Gogh, was always going to be a unique film experience. Now, it is also certified brilliant.

Taking place one year after the death of van Gogh, Armand Roulin (Booth), the young son of a postman, is tasked by his father (O’Dowd) to personally deliver a letter to Theo van Gogh, brother of Vincent. Once Armand arrives in a small town outside of Paris, he begins to speak with several of the locals who share conflicting stories of their involvement and views of the famed artist. As Armand continues to learn about the truncated life and fascinating background of Vincent van Gogh, his curiosity to discover the truth behind the artist’s mysterious death deepens.

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Using the same technique as Vincent van Gogh himself, over 100 artists have contributed to the 65,000 frames of oil painting on canvas that have been captured in the final cut of this film. To say that LOVING VINCENT is worthy of our appreciation, as we sit down and absorb what must have been a most time-consuming and extremely meticulous method of movie making, is a gross understatement. It is deserving of utmost praise. First shot as a live-action film with actors then hand-painted over frame-by-frame in oils, LOVING VINCENT is striking to view with its dazzling paint job of a vast array of characters performed on-screen by a recognisable and predominantly UK cast.

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The extent of its guarantee to mesmerise is never solely limited to its visual capabilities. An utterly engrossing storyline prods and probes into the possible and probable contributors that may have caused the ultimate and untimely death of Vincent van Gogh. The clearly articulated screenplay, which questions the doubt that is exposed behind potentially false claims, holds every statement accountable to the truth. As its lead character searches for honesty, the writing offers precise education of biographical events with grounded reasoning in its examinations. Minimal but sufficient background concerning Vincent’s childhood and family members is shared and forms a critical part of comprehending the mystery behind his psychological imbalance and final decline. Furthermore, LOVING VINCENT emphatically closes all trains of thought it justifiably opens. A sublime film.

4 ½ stars

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Viewer Discretion/ M (Mature Themes)

Trailer / LOVING VINCENT

Moviedoc thanks Madman for the invite to the screening of this film.

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GOOD TIME

Directors / Benny and Josh Safdie (HEAVEN KNOWS WHAT)
Stars/ Robert Pattinson, Benny Safdie, Necro, Taliah Webster, Jennifer Jason Leigh and Barkhad Abdi

At the conclusion of its final credits during a screening at this year’s Cannes Film Festival, GOOD TIME was the recipient of a six minute standing ovation where it was also selected to compete for the prestigious Palme d’Or.

In New York, two brothers, Connie and Nick Nikas, attempt to rob a bank that does not go according to plan and results in Nick (co-director and co-editor Benny Safdie) being taken to a Riker’s Island holding cell. Desperate to free his mentally challenged brother, Connie (Robert Pattinson) turns to extreme measures, including his older girlfriend Corey (Jennifer Jason Leigh) and a bored teenage girl, Crystal (Taliah Webster), to obtain the bail bond required for his brother’s release.

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An outstanding score, a career-best performance from Robert Pattinson and extremely well thought-out writing ensure that GOOD TIME is more than worth your dime.

An independent American crime drama, GOOD TIME admirably allocates ample time to its lesser details and characters, enriching them on its way to becoming a cut above its mainstream counterparts. Aside from the Nikas brothers, all other characters are only briefly seen. However, with all small part players being written with characterisation that’s as colourful as the film’s neon design, they won’t be only briefly remembered. We see many movies belonging to this genre that either omit, skip or conveniently contrive connecting points to pull off their heist and reach the finish line. Not GOOD TIME. This film earns further positive recognition in just that area. A heist scene that is as riddled with tension as any other you’ll see, a timely twist and a more than satisfying conclusion are all ideal examples to give of the astute writing and execution of this immersive film.  Audiences are constantly left in the dark as to what the next turn in this tale could be and where this will lead to.

GOOD TIME is necessary to see in cinemas, purely to gain the full experience of the award-winning electronic score by Daniel Lopatin, best known under the recording alias Oneohtrix Point Never. It truly is a stand-out.

3 ½ stars

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Viewer Discretion/ MA15+ (Strong violence, coarse language, drug use and sex scene)

Trailer / GOOD TIME

Moviedoc thanks Potential Films for the link to watch and review this film.

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FINAL PORTRAIT

Writer & Director / Stanley Tucci (BIG NIGHT, THE IMPOSTORS)
Stars/ Geoffrey Rush, Armie Hammer, Sylvie Testud, Clémence Poésy and Tony Shalhoub

FINAL PORTRAIT is an enlightening retelling of Swiss painter and sculptor Alberto Giacometti’s (Geoffrey Rush) numerous attempts to complete his portrait of young American writer and art admirer James Lord (Armie Hammer). It is 1964 in Paris when Alberto makes the flattering offer to draw his friend James, who is spending a few days traveling the French capital. Told from James’s perspective, FINAL PORTRAIT follows the trials and tribulations of both men as the neurotic artist battles both artistic and personal problems in this biographical comedic drama.

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From even his childhood years during the early 1900’s, Alberto Giacometti showed a keen interest in art. The life events of this post-impressionist artist that occurred from then to the timeline depicted here have surprisingly never been told in a feature length picture. However, they certainly deserve to be (and hopefully will be) someday.

Better known for his on-screen work, writer/director Stanley Tucci focuses on several days in the latter part of Giacometti’s life, in this moderate yet finely made film. Content with regularly and casually observing rather deeply exploring any of its themes and characterisations, FINAL PORTRAIT is an undeniably lightweight film that has tendencies to sometimes meander and linger in repetitiveness. Nevertheless, those who fancy this edited snapshot will take a liking to Tucci’s piece of work courtesy of the director’s firm handling of a basic story and peculiar characters, the reasonable pace over a short duration that has been applied and a terrific performance from Geoffrey Rush (who knew he could speak French!?). These aspects of the film keep this UK production a serviceable one.

3 stars 

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Viewer Discretion/ M (Mature themes, coarse language and nudity)

Trailer / FINAL PORTRAIT

Moviedoc thanks Transmission Films for the screening invite to this film.

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GOD’S OWN COUNTRY

Writer & Director / Francis Lee (Feature film debut)
Stars/ Josh O’Connor, Alec Secareanu, Gemma Jones and Ian Hart

Writer and director Francis Lee’s first-ever feature-length film, GOD’S OWN COUNTRY, tells of a personal story that is partly based on his own life.

On a remote Yorkshire farm, Johnny (Josh O’Connor – CINDERELLA, FLORENCE FOSTER JENKINS), is compelled to live and work at the family estate with his father, Martin (Ian Hart) and his Grandmother, Deidre (Gemma Jones – the BRIDGET JONES trilogy) after a stroke leaves Martin with partial paralysis. Feeling extreme frustration by being stuck at a landscape and surrounded by local folk that don’t meet his needs, Johnny encounters an opportunity to change his ways when a handsome migrant worker from Romania named Gheorghe (Alec Secareanu) is employed to help Johnny manage the farming demands.


Winner of seven awards including best feature at the Berlin, Edinburgh and San Francisco Film Festivals, GOD’S OWN COUNTRY boasts authentic imagery and performances, yet is unfortunately a dull film to watch. 

A mistaken rather than a poorer film, Francis Lee has produced GOD’S OWN COUNTRY with the belief that the stark landscape, its central characters silent tension and their plight will communicate more strongly than words. Despite the best efforts of his two lead actor’s very good performances, Lee’s writing is far too one-dimensional and scarce of dialogue to maintain long-term investment in his picture. This void is especially defined in earlier characterisation work of Johnny as well as the notable omission of much-needed sub-plotting to support the central plot. Another acknowledgement to its authenticity involves the filming of farming animals, all of which are indeed real and were mostly shot at the farm of Francis Lee’s father. Though commendable of his commitment as director, the minutes of screen time these several scenes occupy are more befitting for a documentary on the subject. It is here, as well as the all too foreseeable plot trajectory that also induce an overwhelming feeling of tedium upon this promising UK production.

2 stars

Viewer Discretion/ MA15+ (Strong sex scenes and nudity)

Trailer / GOD’S OWN COUNTRY

Moviedoc thanks Rialto Distribution and Annette Smith for the screener link provided to this film.

Review by Moviedoc / “LIKE” on Facebook – Moviedoc

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LADY MACBETH

Director / William Oldroyd (Feature film debut)
Stars/ Florence Pugh, Paul Hilton, Cosmo Jarvis, Naomi Ackie and Christopher Fairbank

Make no mistake, LADY MACBETH bears no resemblance to any work associated to William Shakespeare. Based on the 1865 Russian novella, Lady Macbeth of the Mtsensk District by Nikolai Leskov, the only reference from this film that could be made to the namesake character created by Shakespeare is of a purely symbolic nature.

Set in rural England in 1865, the film opens as 17 year old Katherine (Florence Pugh) is forced into marriage with the older Alexander (Paul Hilton). Katherine, who loves the outdoors, doesn’t so easily accept her husband’s wishes to be his subordinate, after he orders her to remain locked indoors at all times. When Alexander leaves his estate for several weeks to attend to a business emergency, the rebellious and free-spirited Katherine begins a dangerous affair with a young man working at the estate, Sebastian (Cosmo Jarvis).

Courtesy of its remarkable and transformative lead female character, LADY MACBETH turns the period drama genre on its head in near flawless fashion.

Lady Katherine isn’t just the stand-out character in this sublime film, it is one of the most conceivably written, daring and exciting transitions of any character we’ve seen in recent years. Immediately upon moving into her new residence with her husband, Katherine recognises the misogynist she has married and the submissive life that she’s contractually obliged to fulfil. Rather than succumbing to her dreadful fate, Katherine fights back. Almost every command ordered at her is answered in return with wilful disobedience. Any expectations that existed prior to her arrival are now met with contemptuous disregard and are dead and buried. With each bout of resistance she sends forth, Katherine is brimming in confidence. Anyone who dares to throw a conventional line her way will become her bait! As delicious as this is to witness, audiences are very much aware that Katherine’s recklessness is going to have its consequences.

This is an outstanding feature-film directional debut from William Oldroyd, who has collected seven of the eleven award wins LADY MACBETH has so far received. He unearths a scintillating performance from his star, Florence Pugh (who has won the remaining four awards), in what truly is a breakout performance in every sense of the word. It is a display of acting that will not be forgotten in a film that produces fierce, fearless and electrifying drama. Make no mistake, LADY MACBETH is an unmissable film.

4 ½ stars



Viewer Discretion/ MA15+ (strong sex scenes and coarse language)

Trailer / LADY MACBETH

Moviedoc thanks Sharmill Films for the invite to the screening of this film..

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